Discover more from Baeranteed MLS
The Worst Offseason In MLS History
How FC Cincinnati got into the mess that they are currently in
Disclaimer: Due to my relationship with Austin FC, I will not be discussing that team on this site.
What happened in the Bronx on Saturday was embarrassing. No team should give up five set-piece goals in one match. But considering what the first two years of FC Cincinnati’s MLS existence looked like, I don’t think anyone would say it was all that surprising.
This offseason GM Gerard Nijkamp went out and splashed the cash. He spent $13 million on Brazilian forward Brenner, $4 million Ghanaian winger Isaac Atanga, $3 million on former D.C. United playmaker Luciano Acosta and up to $600k in GAM for Ronald Matarrita.
(Transfer numbers from Transfermarkt)
Ideally, FC Cincy would have followed the same path that Minnesota United FC showed. Build up the team over two years before opening into a new stadium and add key pieces heading into that key season. Unfortunately, these moves kind of seem like a hail mary after two years where almost no foundation pieces were established.
All of the moves Nijkamp made this offseason could work out. But let’s remember why he was forced to spend so much money as the club was ready to move into their new stadium.
Nijkamp was brought in to clean up a mess that was created by the original front office. So most of the issues with this team don’t lie at his feet (though some do, looking at you Yuya Kubo). Expansion teams are given a major advantage by being gifted a massive amount of allocation money. This allows them to acquire players that will be the base of the squad heading into the expansion season. Let’s take a look at how that money was spent.
Trades/Big foreign Signings
Fanendo Adi: Got the striker from Portland for $850k. He scored just one goal before getting waived.
Greg Garza: Cincinnati sent $450k to Atlanta United for the oft-injured left back. He played just over 1400 minutes for the club before retiring this offseason.
Nick Hagglund: Acquired the hometown boy for assets estimated to be worth around $550k. The move was widely panned at the time due to Hagglund being viewed as a depth piece. He has played about 2500 minutes for the worst defense in MLS history.
Kendall Waston: The Costa Rican international was acquired for $750k and an international roster spot (worth anywhere between $150k and $225k). He started basically every game he was available for, but proved to not be the same player he was in Vancouver. Was not retained this offseason.
Leonardo Bertone: The midfielder scored an incredible in Cincinnati’s opener and was a regular starter in his lone season with FC Cincy. But he proved to not be a building block as he returned to Switzerland. Cincinnati reportedly paid $1.9 million to acquire him and transferred him for just $110k.
Alvas Powell: The enigmatic right back was acquired for $250k. He played under 1000 minutes in one season for Cincinnati.
Some expansion clubs have been able to use this mechanism to get good depth players that help to build the culture of the squad. Here’s what Cincy did.
Darren Mattocks: The Jamaican butted heads with coaches and the front office before leaving after one season which saw him score three goals.
Kei Kamara: He was traded for an international roster spot, which they had more than enough allocation money to acquire if they chose to. Maybe they should have kept the MLS legend.
Roland Lamah: The winger could have been signed on a free, but Cincinnati chose to select him in the expansion draft. He had one goal and three assists in his lone season with Cincinnati.
Eric Alexander: The veteran MLS midfielder played just 312 minutes for Cincy.
Hassan Ndam: The center back never took the field for Cincinnati.
It’s easy to see why Cincinnati are in the position that they are currently in. Just go back and look what transpired in the offseason heading into their expansion year. Nijkamp and co. have worked hard to rectify these mistakes but his track record has not been great so far either. Hopefully that will change soon, for the sanity of every FCC fan out there.